An NBA season riddled with injuries has seen the alarming trend of players being stuck on the treatment table refuse to relent in the playoffs.
A postseason already missing Kobe Bryant, David Lee, Danilo Gallinari, Amar’e Stoudemire, Danny Granger, Derrick Rose and Rajon Rondo added to the list of players missing from games; Russell Westbrook, Jeremy Lin and the entire Los Lakers starting backcourt.
This follows a season in which Kevin Love barely set foot on the hardwood while Anderson Varejao was knocked out for the season early on. Kyrie Irving spent half the year struggling with injuries and early season absences of Dirk Nowitzki and John Wall were major stories along with the return of Ricky Rubio.
Injuries have spent more time in NBA headlines this season and over the last year than legendary performances and Kobe Bryant quotes, but it’s time that it stop. One or two more injuries to All-Star caliber players and this season will be in danger of becoming lost, a title tainted by an asterisk not in the record books, but in our memories.
I went to sleep on Saturday night and had a nightmare. This hellish dream saw LeBron James go down with a season ending, career altering torn ACL on the same day that Chris Paul re-injured his surgically repaired lateral meniscus. Chicago is able to beat Miami in seven games during the second round while Los Angeles can’t compete with Kevin Durant in the West.
But Durant ends up being overpowered by San Antonio in the Western Conference Finals while on the East Coast, Chicago slides by the Carmelo Anthony-less Knicks who won game 7 of their East Semifinal against the Paul George-less Pacers despite losing their superstar to a broken ankle in the final minutes of the third quarter. Suddenly the NBA Finals is a strange matchup of the aging Spurs and perpetually injured Bulls. The league’s showcase moment, the grand finale to a hard fought and entertaining season is marred by injuries to basketball’s best players and in the collective American consciousness, the championship is a tarnished measure of success for one year because the road to it never went through one of its best players.
Thankfully, I woke up and a bright Sunday morning was made brighter because we could tune in and watch both Anthony and James attempt to sweep their first round series and on Tuesday, Chris Paul and the Clippers will attempt to maintain the home court status quo of their series with Memphis.
Granted, we had to sit through two series tainted by injuries later in the day when the Lakers and Spurs came to an end and when Golden State gutted Denver one more time to take a 3-1 lead. But at the end of the day, a few superstars are still intact and at least for today, the battle for the championship is still alive and healthy and sexy, at least until the next major injury.
But it will be that next one that sends me over the edge, that next torn pectoral muscle or meniscus that ends the season of one of basketball’s most high profile of names that will be the moment I stand two feet planted in my living room carpet, toss the remote at television and shout to the heavens, “enough!” Please, no more injuries or this NBA season may as well not count.
For today it’s intact, but if Westbrook’s injury last Thursday showed us anything, it’s that it only takes one random moment to damage a team’s season. String a few more together and all you have left is a tainted season for the entire league.